Censorship by Google

Censorship by Google is Google corporation's removal or lack of inclusion of information from its services in order to comply with local laws or with the company's policies.

Web search


Google commonly censors search results to comply with DMCA-related legal complaints. [http://www.chillingeffects.org/keyword.cgi?KeywordID=2]

Germany and France

On October 22, 2002, a study reported that approximately 113 Internet sites had been removed from the German and French versions of Google. [Zittrain, Jonathan; Edelman, Benjamin. " [http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/google Localized Google search result exclusions: Statement of issues and call for data] ." "Harvard Law School: Berkman Center for Internet & Society." October 22, 2002.] This censorship mainly affected White Nationalist, Nazi, anti-semitic, and radical Islamic websites. Under French and German law, hate speech and Holocaust denial are illegal. In the case of Germany, violent or sex-related sites such as YouPorn and BME that the "Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien" deems harmful to youth are also censored.Google complies with these laws by not including sites containing such material in its search results. However, Google lists the number of excluded results at the bottom of the result list and links to Chilling Effects for an explanation.


Google's adheres to the Internet censorship policies of China,cite web
title=BBC NEWS | Technology | Google censors itself for China
] enforced by means of filters colloquially known as "The Great Firewall of China". Google.cn search results are filtered so as not to bring up any results concerning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, sites supporting the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan or the Falun Gong movement, and other information perceived to be harmful to the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The PRC has restricted citizen access to popular search engines such as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google in the past. The mirror search site elgooG has been used by users in mainland China to get around blocked content. This complete ban has since been lifted. However, the government remains active in filtering Internet content. In October 2005, Blogger and access to the Google Cache were made available in mainland China; however, in December 2005, some mainland Chinese users of Blogger reported that their access to the site was once again restricted.

In January 2006, Google affirmed its intent to filter certain keywords given to it by the government of the PRC. The restrictions applies to thousands of terms and websites. [Liedtke, Michael. " [http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/01/24/D8FBCF686.html Google Agrees to Censor Results in China] ." " [http://www.breitbart.com/ Breitbart.com] ." January 24, 2006.] The censored content appears on google.cn. Google claims censorship is necessary to keep the PRC government from blocking Google, as the case of the 2002 block. [ [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0802118143&id=TtOcGMPLRBwC&pg=PA341&lpg=PA341&sig=w4Q8-oC5Gyz8RGP7uiGX_PJYj_w#PPA341,M1 The Great Wall: China Against the World, 1000 Bc - AD 2000] ] The company does not plan to give the government information about the users who search for blocked content, and will inform users of restricted categories. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4647398.stm Google move 'black day' for China] ." "BBC News." January 25, 2006.] Google states on its help pages that it does not censor content, but it does block pages as demanded for in certain jurisdictions, such as DMCA requests in the United States.

Most Chinese Internet users did not express much concern about Google's choice. Also, Google offers to Chinese Internet users a choice that protects their privacy better than existing search engines available in China, since Google keeps confidential records of its users outside China, unlike domestic search engines that could be compelled by the government to hand over information at any time.Gunther, Marc. [http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/15/news/international/pluggedin_fortune/index.htm?cnn=yes Tech execs get grilled over China business: Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Cisco, facing attack in Congress, say they're doing more good than harm in China] ." "CNN." February 16, 2006.] The following message appears at the bottom of the Google search result page whenever results are blocked: "In accordance with local laws and policies, some of the results have not been displayed." Currently, Google is the only major China-based search engine to explicitly inform the user when search results are blocked or hidden. Chinese Internet users have also criticized Google for assisting the Chinese government in repressing its own citizens standing up to the said government and advocating human rights Students for a Free Tibet. "Google: Stop participating in China's Propaganda." [http://actionnetwork.org/sft/alert-description.html?alert_id=3738464] ] .

Google has been denounced and called hypocritical by Reporters Without Borders for agreeing to China's demands and fighting the US government's requests for information concerning Google-users. [cite web
title=Google bows to Chinese censorship with new search site - Forbes.com

On February 14, 2006, protesters organized in a "mass breakup with Google" whereby users agreed to boycott Google on Valentine's Day to show their disapproval of the Google China policy. [Fung, Amanda. " [http://www.newyorkbusiness.com/news.cms?id=12962 Midtown protest targets Google's China site] ." "New York Business." February 14, 2006.] [ [http://www.noluv4google.com/ NO LUV 4 Google Website] .]


nihongo|Toshihiro Yoshimoto|吉本 敏洋|Yoshimoto Toshihiro, the owner of the delisted website nihongo|Akutoku Shōhō Maniacs|悪徳商法マニアックス|extra2="lit. Illegal-business-practice maniacs", claims that Google has been censoring in Japan and published nihongo|"Google-hachibu towa nanika"|グーグル八分とは何か|extra2="What is the censorship by Google?". Information-Technology Promotion Agency, a Japanese independent administrative agency, funds his project to develop the software to discover delisted websites in Japan. [cite web|title=悪マニ管理人が「グーグル八分発見システム」開発へ、IPA未踏ソフト事業|url=http://internet.watch.impress.co.jp/cda/news/2007/08/01/16511.html|accessyear=2007|accessdate=10-25|publisher=Impress Watch]


In 2002 Google was found to have censored websites that provided information about Scientology, in compliance with the United States' DMCA legislation. [http://www.factnet.org/Scientology/Google_Scientology.html] [http://www.politechbot.com/p-03281.html]

Google replaced the banned results with links to the DMCA complaint that caused the site to be removed. The DMCA complaint contains the site to be removed, and the organizations that requested the removal (e.g. [http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Axenu.net+scientology&btnG=Google+Search] ) The publicity stemming from this incident was the impetus for Google's making public of the DMCA notices on the Chilling Effects archive, which archives legal threats of all sorts made against Internet users and Internet sites. [http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/5997]

Criticism of anti-child pornography operation

On 21 September 2006 [http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/21/google_delists_inq21/] , it was reported that Google had 'delisted' Inquisition 21st Century [http://www.inquisition21.com/] , a website which claims to challenge moral authoritarian and sexually absolutist ideas in the United Kingdom. According to Inquisition 21 themselves, Google was acting "in support of a campaign by law enforcement agencies in the US and UK to suppress emerging information about their involvement in major malpractice", allegedly exposed by their own investigation of and legal action against those who carried out Operation Ore, a groundbreaking, far reaching and much criticized law enforcement campaign against the viewers of child pornography [http://www.inquisition21.com/index.php?module=announce&ANN_user_op=view&ANN_id=287] . Google released a press statement suggesting Inquisition 21 had attempted to manipulate search results. [http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/21/google_delists_inq21/]

News search

ites critical of Islam

In early 2006 Google removed several news sites from its news search engine because complaints were received about various articles that were critical of Islam. [ [http://chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=21283 Google Censors New Media Journal for Hate Speech against Islam] ] [ [http://googlewatch.eweek.com/blogs/google_watch/archive/2006/05/23/10254.aspx Google News Bootings: Real Extremism or Just Bad Taste?] ] These included the [http://www.newmediajournal.us The New Media Journal] , which contained phrasing such as in the "World of Islam ... it is common for the men to have multiple wives, and harvest many children with each of his wives to train for martyrdom." Other sites removed included [http://michnews.com/ MichNews] and [http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/ The Jawa Report] .

These sites remain accessible from Google's main search page as normal, but are no longer included in Google News. Google responded by stating that "We do not allow articles and sources expressly promoting hate speech viewpoints in Google News, although referencing hate speech for commentary and analysis is acceptable".


YouTube, a video sharing website and subsidiary of Google, has a Terms of Service that prohibits the posting of videos which violate copyrights or depict pornography, illegal acts, gratuitous violence, or hate speech. [cite web |url= http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines|title= YouTube Community Guidelines|accessdate= 2007-05-09 |publisher= YouTube] User-posted videos that violate such terms may be removed and replaced with a message stating "This video has been removed due to terms of use violation" without actually stating which terms of use were violated.

YouTube blocked the account of Wael Abbas, an activist who posted videos of police brutality, voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations. [http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnL27590430.html YouTube stops account of Egypt anti-torture activist] ] His account was subsequently restored.

YouTube also removed a video produced by the American Life League which is critical of Planned Parenthood. It has since been restored. [ [http://newsbusters.org/blogs/matthew-sheffield/2008/02/19/youtube-reinstates-pro-life-show-after-removal YouTube Reinstates Pro-life Show After Removal | NewsBusters.org ] ]

YouTube has been criticised for censoring Alisa Apps music videos, whilst allowing Rambo clips to be shown where decapitations and other gore scenes are visible throughout. [ [http://www.itnews.it/2008/0121094601468/rambo-vs-alisa-apps-in-youtube-censorship-controversy.html http://www.itnews.it/2008/0121094601468/rambo-vs-alisa-apps-in-youtube-censorship-controversy.html] ]

On February 22, 2008, Pakistan Telecommunications attempted to block regional access to YouTube following a government order. The attempt subsequently caused a worldwide YouTube blackout that took 2 hours to correct. Four days later, Pakistan Telecom lifted the ban after YouTube removed religiously controversial comments made by a Dutch government official [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/25/tech/main3876322.shtml Pakistan Drops YouTube Ban | CBS News.com] ] concerning Islam. [ [http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9879513-7.html Pakistan welcomes back YouTube | Tech news blog - CNET News.com ] ]

Google Maps

In March 2007, allegedly lower resolution satellite imagery on Google Maps showing post-Hurricane Katrina damage in the U.S. state of Louisiana was replaced with higher resolution images from before the storm. [cite web |url= http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/03/31/katrina.google.maps.ap/index.html|title= House panel: Why did Google 'airbrush history?' |date= 2007-03-31|publisher= Associated Press] Google's official blog of April revealed that the imagery was still available in [http://earth.google.com/katrina.html KML format] on Google Earth or Google Maps, at least until January 2008 when it was last [ cached] , as opposed to the animation. [cite web|url=http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/09/post-katrina-images-of-new-orleans-on.html|title=Post-Katrina images of New Orleans on Google Maps|date=2005-09-02|publisher=Google] [cite web|url=http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/about-new-orleans-imagery-in-google.html|title=About the New Orleans imagery in Google Maps and Earth|date=2007-04-02|publisher=Google] [cite web|url=http://earth.google.com/ig/directory?pid=earth&synd=earth&q=katrina|title=Hurricane Katrina (animation)|date=2005-08-23|publisher=Google] In March 2008, Google removed maps of military bases per the Pentagon's request. [cite news|publisher=Information Week|date=2008-03-07|http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/03/google_caves_to.html|title=Google Caves To Pentagon Wishes|author=Eric Zeman]


In February 2003, Google stopped showing the adverts of Oceana, a non-profit organization protesting a major cruise ship operation's sewage treatment practices. Google cited its editorial policy at the time, stating "Google does not accept advertising if the ad or site advocates against other individuals, groups, or organizations." [cite web |url= http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2004/05/17/google-somewhat-lifts-oceana-ad-ban|title= Google Somewhat Lifts Oceana Ad Ban|date= 2004-05-17|publisher= [http://www.webpronews.com/ webpronews.com] ] The policy was later changed. [cite web |url= https://www.google.com/adsense/static/en_US/Terms.html|title= Google AdSenseTM Online Standard Terms and Conditions|accessdate= 2007-05-09|publisher= Google AdSense]

In October 2007, Google banned advertisements from Maine U.S. Senator Susan Collins' reelection campaign, citing its trademark policy. The ads contained the words "Help Susan Collins stand up to the MoveOn.org money machine." At the time, Google permitted the use of company names like Exxon and Wal-Mart in other non-sanctioned advertising, and an ad running at the time of the article read "Keep Blackwater in Iraq?" [cite web |url=http://www.examiner.com/a-983100~Robert_Cox__Google_bans_anti_MoveOn_org_ads.html|title= Google bans anti-MoveOn.org ads|date= 2007-10-11|publisher= [http://www.examiner.com] ]

In April 2008, Google refused to run ads for a UK Christian group opposed to abortion, explaining that "At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content.'" Google policy does not prohibit advertisements for abortion clinics or pro-choice sites. [cite news |first=Caldwell |last=Simon |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=Christian group sues Google after search engine refuses to take its abortion adverts |url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=558177&in_page_id=1770 |format= |work= |publisher=Daily Mail |location=London |id= |pages= |page= |date=2008-04-09 |accessdate=2008-04-08 |language=English |quote= [Google's] Dublin-based advertising team replied: At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content.'|archiveurl= |archivedate= ]

hareholder initiatives

On May 10, 2007, shareholders of Google voted down an anti-censorship proposal for the company. The text of the failed proposal stated that:

#Data that can identify individual users should not be hosted in Internet-restricting countries, where political speech can be treated as a crime by the legal system.
#The company will not engage in pro-active censorship.
#The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.
#Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.
#Users should be informed about the company's data retention practices, and the ways in which their data is shared with third parties.
#The company will document all cases where legally binding censorship requests have been complied with, and that information will be publicly available.

David Drummond, senior vice president for corporate development, said "Pulling out of China, shutting down Google.cn, is just not the right thing to do at this point... but that's exactly what this proposal would do." [cite web |url= http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,131745-pg,1/article.html|title= Google Shareholders Vote Against Anti-Censorship Proposal|author= Larkin, Erik|date= 2007-05-10|publisher= PC World]

CEO Eric Schmidt and founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal. Together they hold 66.2 percent of Google's total shareholder voting power. [PC World: [http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,131519-page,1/article.html Google Asks Shareholders to Permit Censorship] ]


External links

* [http://www.sethf.com/anticensorware/general/google-censorship.php Google Censorship - How It Works]
* [http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/google/ Localized Google search result exclusions]
* [http://sethf.com/anticensorware/general/chester.php Report examines a newspaper-led campaign to have a site removed from both its host and the Google search index]
* [http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-03-02-n19.html Unofficial Google Censorship FAQ]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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